The Haunting Gaze

He has figured me out, I think. His hasty escape to the other side of the street betrays him; his soul laid bare through his nervous peripheral glances. He’s busy. If I had a family and demanding job, I might not have time for the likes of me either, I suppose. If I see him again, I might ask him. Wonder if he will look me in the eye?

man-crossing-street

She has figured me out, I think. Her fear of me is apparent. She doesn’t know I can see her terrified eyes behind those movie star sunglasses. I suppose I do look scary, in my minimal clothing, shivering here in this corner, hiding from the biting wind of the night. I probably would not want my wife or daughter to walk past me.

summer-style-street-hot-models-big-box-glasses-sunglasses-oversized-sunglasses-yurt-ms

But if they knew Who sent me, I wonder if they would shudder?

I know why he just passed by without a glance. His budget is tight. His debts press against him. His dollars are allocated. He looks very comfortable, though. I hope he is. I wouldn’t want him to be uncomfortable. I am glad he will sleep well in his bed tonight. I wouldn’t want him to suffer this cold, hard sidewalk. He needs his sleep. He has earned it.

Handsome young man in bed

There she is again. She does not have her movie star sunglasses this time. Wonder if I can catch her gaze. If she will only look into my eyes, perhaps I can reach her. But she won’t look at me. I don’t blame her. It would be hard to look me in the eye and walk by. Her heart might tug, I think. And that tug might steal her sleep. Better not to look. Better to sleep peacefully.

woman-sleeping-in-bed_gxdkvp

If they knew Who sent me, I wonder if they would shudder?

He looks up at me from the pages of my bedding. He knows the One Who sent me. I know this because he uses His name . . . a lot. He even has His Word in his hand. I wonder if he has ever read it? Could he have read it and condemn me so? I can’t blame him for not helping me, though. If he did, I might suffer. I might choose this rocky pillow over a soft warm bed. But if he ignores me, I might get up and walk instead of wallowing here in my filth. He knows what he is doing; he is showing me compassion. Good for him.

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He has figured me out. He knows why I sleep in agony, why I choose to sweat in the sweltering sun without shade or water to cool my tongue, why I toss and turn with a rumbling stomach, and why I allow bugs to crawl upon me and make me itch. He knows why I have dirt deep into my cuticles; he has seen me digging in the trash. He knows why I suffer. I am lazy. I am glad he knows me. If he didn’t, he might feel uncomfortable. He might buy me a meal instead of buying that dessert. But he deserves that dessert. He has worked hard for it. He needs to be comfortable.

man-eating-dessert-in-fancy-restaurant

If they knew Who sent me, I wonder if they would shudder?

He looks up at me once again from the pages of my bedding, my winter’s blanket sheltering me from the ice and snow. He is right, I’m sure. Government shouldn’t help me. It wastes money on the likes of me. I get in the way of their wars and bridges to nowhere. I get in the way of their vacations, and fancy cars, and electronic devices, and boats, and tithing. I am glad he has figured me out. He is wise and should not be duped.

She is right; I am here a lot. Where else have I to go? Which corner is more convenient for her? I will be glad to move there if it will comfort her. Shall I go off into the woods and die alone? She has figured me out. I am thirsty for ale and smoke. She must withhold her aid so as not to support my habits. I am thankful for her compassion. Otherwise, I would just numb my misery.

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If they knew Who sent me, I wonder if they would shudder?

Do they know how much You love the likes of me? If so, would they pass to the other side of the street?

Do they know that when they turn from me they turn from You? If so, would they avoid my gaze?

Do they know that how they treat me demonstrates their love for You? If so, would they leave me here in the cold with a rumbling stomach?

Do they know that You sent me here to test their hearts? If they did, would they still turn from me?

Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.


In a flash, the shivering man disappeared, leaving behind a pile of filth and loneliness, soon to be swept away and burned up in the furnace.

The man’s face smiling from the pages of the black and white bedding shriveled and popped in the flames. 

This time, the busy man did not cross the street.

This time, the fear was gone from the movie star’s eyes.

This time, they slept well in their comfortable beds. 

They had figured him out and would not be duped.

But if they knew Who sent him . . . .


Related Scriptures
  • Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

    Hebrews 13:2.
  •  

  • Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

    James 2:15-16.
  •  

  • In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”  “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

    Luke 10:30-37.
  •  

  • “Among my people are the wicked who . . . do not defend the just cause of the poor. Should I not punish them for this?” declares the Lord. “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?”

    Jeremiah 5:26-29.
  •  

  • If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. . . . Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

    Deuteronomy 15:7-11.
  •  

  • Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

    Luke 6:20.
  •  

  • Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

    James 2:5.
  •  

  • Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    Matthew 19:21.
  •  

  • Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

    Luke 14:12-14.
  •  

  • Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

    Proverbs 28:27.

 


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43 thoughts on “The Haunting Gaze

      1. Perhaps there lies the beauty of the lessons? Subtle, yet haunting at times.

        I saw a story on Facebook a few years ago about an older gentleman who sat with a cup seeking change/ coins for endless days. Later, it was discovered that the money never was for him. He had a pension he lived off of and he donated every cent he collected.

        I love that it’s hard to tell who holding a sign or who is in those “shoes.” Seems like it is human tendency to try to judge others and pick out who we think is most deserving… That is showcased by the beauty in your writing. The ones hiding behind glasses, passing by without a glance maybe be avoiding or may not even notice the one they pass by, yet the one they pass may actually be the one that FEELS for them. 🙂 Love the lesson of that. It’s so contrary.

        Your writing is so great. It makes me think. 🙂

        Liked by 4 people

  1. If only I have more material resources, I would have helped more the poor and the homeless. The things I’m able to do now for them don’t satisfy me. And this does make me feel guilty 😦

    But perhaps someday God will lead me to an outreach ministry where I can be more of help….

    Anyway, I’m adding you to my blogroll, and I’ve just voted for you!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you very much!

      Keep in mind that God cares nothing about amount or money. He cares about the heart. So, it doesn’t matter how much or how little your are able to give; it matters only where your heart is.

      Mark 12: “41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.””

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Phenomenal post. I’ll be reading this again.

    Especially like how you ended the story. “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” I remember watching the Bible mini-series on the History Channel and that was my favorite quote by far.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well written post. Please tell me how to determine the truly poor and needy from the shyster with the cell phone hidden in the pocket and the Cadillac parked around the corner. I have experienced those as well. I have also offered food to the needy and been turned down because I was not offering money. What say you?

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    1. This post is about the heart, not about the fine points of how to address poverty, such as reforming welfare to reduce abuse or what the best approach is to help a particular person. Jesus cautions about throwing pearls to pigs (Matthew 7:6), so giving money to “shysters” is not expected. But, again, the point here is about the heart. If a Christian goes about judging all of the poor before giving or searching for a reason not to give, is he exhibiting the love of Christ? Is he following scripture? Where in scripture does it say to measure the worth of the poor before meeting their needs? Were we worthy of Christ’s service and sacrifice? Giving to the poor models Christ’s service to us. He died for us when we were filthy rags and dead in our sins and very much unworthy. We are to have the same heart as He. The actors in this play certainly did not know this man, yet they made judgments about him, which hardened their hearts. I’ve been in their shoes many times. I work in a high homeless area, so I am approached by them almost daily. I know the mental struggle. What I am working on is MY heart. God is not concerned about the manner of assistance; what He cares about is the condition of my heart. Do I condemn those I deem unworthy? Or do I love and serve all?

      Liked by 7 people

  4. God knows who the shysters are….and it is our hearts He wants to see! I know I gave to a shyster once, but it was given prayerfully and I said if he is, then may the Lird use my kindness and our eye to eye contact to reach him! Yep, I like the eye to eye contact….

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the LEAST of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ “ (Matt 25:40, NIV, emphasis mine)

    This is a very important post and beautifully written! I was reminded yesterday of the depth that we sometimes need to be willing to go to search out and help. Light isn’t needed in light places but in dark places. It is completely a heart issue. We cannot afford to sit back and judge the old man, lest our old man be equally judged. Jesus meets people where they are. We must do the same.

    I can’t say enough about how wonderful this was to read today!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed. We ask ourselves far too often whether we should lend a hand, and I’m quite confident we would not like Jesus’ response to us, much like that rich young ruler. To whom much is given, much is required.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the link. And very insightful poem. Tanya Cliff wrote a similar biting commentary of Christmas in In the Palm of Poor Hands. Most of us get so swept away with excess that we lose our humanity and forget to look around. The Bible says that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. All three of these stories capture the essence of that verse.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. The older I get, the less I enjoy the secular aspects of it. And it doesn’t just adversely affect those who are suffering or the poor. Watching the greed instilled in children and the stress placed on parents, it really is a wreck all the way around. At the same time, I can envision the beauty of a simplistic version of it, where simple, inexpensive gifts are shared, honored and treasured, not for materialistic reasons, but for the simple joy of giving and loving others.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for this. Huge gut check and heart check. Our homeless community around here is large and very much in need. I have recently become more aware of their presence and I’ve tried to give of my money and time. I often feel inept and like it will never be enough, but I can’t ignore them either. It’s one of those things where a little given with the correct heart is better than much given out of guilt.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Oh my, what I said earlier was wordy!! 🙂 All I meant was sometimes it seems like messages and lessons are disguised. And at times, it may seem like we are the ones helping someone else when in turn its the other way around.

    Thanks for letting me ramble earlier… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I used to turn myself in knots worrying if I should or should I not. Then I decided to follow this rule: what I give to them is between me and God; what they do with what I give them is between the and God.

    Have I shown you this before? This is something I recorded on my cell phone last January:

    (Dictated into my cell phone on the evening of January 19, 2016)
    I’m driving through *********, watching the gas gauge because I am just about out of gas. I have about a dollar seventy five to my name and I’m making plans.
    There’s a gas station at the ********* exit on 25 and I’m thinking of offering to clean the bathroom in exchange for two gallons of gas.
    I’m recording this because I’m thinking about what it’s like to live like this…for the people who live like this every day of their lives, and can’t get out of the downward spiral.
    All of my life I have come across people who live this way, hand to mouth. I have to admit that I have very often thought that they somehow deserved to live this way,  either because they were wasteful and stupid or because they had an entitlement mentality; by that, I mean they were so used to social programs that there was no other way to live. They didn’t seem to know how to take care of themselves.
    God was I wrong. There is no dignity in this.  Yes, I have been stupid and wasteful.  But, I believe it takes more strength to hold your head up, survive this, and ask for help than it does to work a hard, paying job.
    I will make it through this. I know I will. I’m having to convince my daughter that she, too, will survive this because she, too, is overdrawn and facing rent day. But I’m also having to teach her that this is a God lesson in humility. This whole scenario is destroying my pride. And that is a good thing…a God thing.
    To identify with the people who live on the streets or in their cars or in 60 year old house trailers with the floors falling in… it’s a good place to be.
    God, forgive me for all those times when I have felt superior to people who have nothing. Forgive me for making them feel bad by looking the other way or not smiling, for not looking them in the eyes, or not offering to help.
    And for all those empty-headed idiots who say people who live on the street do so because they want to…I can’t think of a curse strong enough for them.

    Well, I did it.  I stopped at the ****** exit and asked the attendant if I could clean the bathrooms for two gallons of gas.  He deferred to the manager/owner. First, she calculates how much two gallons is going to cost her, asks me where I’m going, and how many miles I get to a gallon.  She then tells me she’s already cleaned up and they close in 10 minutes, so, “no.”  I wait.  She waits back.  So I leave, with no gas.
    I drove 40 to 50 miles on an empty tank, like the miracle of Hanukkah, all over again.
    I’m now at my daughter’s apartment where it’s warm.  It’s 19 degrees outside and I’m thinking about the people broken down by the side of the road, or ‘sleeping’ under bridges, or in their cars, or even in shelters.  I beg God to bless them, if not in this life then in the next one.  And, please, if they sleep, may they know in their dreams that someone is sorry, very sorry, that someone cares for them even if there is nothing she can do to help, and that she loves them.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. This is one area in which I do struggle. I generally make it a rule to help the elderly, or young women when I feel comfortable. I have bought diapers once for a woman asking for money for diapers, and bought meals. I now rarely hand out money. But like your post suggests because I used to work downtown where there is a lot of mentally ill and homeless I did avoid eye contact. I have never forgotten that scripture about entertaining angels unawares that I learned as a young woman. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve given, I’ve served, I’ve walked by, I’ve avoided, I’ve judged, I’ve done it all. When I pass by without helping or serving or when I judge, I always go away miserable. Also, I never carry cash so I’m always stuck with this uncomfortable response-“Sorry, no cash.” The icky feeling is conviction and conscience.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for sharing. I recognize that there goes I but by the grace of God. In fact, I was reminded of that last Thursday when I attended our church’s ministry night at a homeless shelter. It really could have been me sitting in that room, so I am thankful.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I remember questioning what they did with the money as a teen and my father telling me that it didn’t matter. If God was leading you to give, it was because he wanted you to obey regardless of what the person would do with it.
    I had an incident once as an adult where I did not give when approached on the street. Both my friend and I felt convicted that it could have been Jesus that we denied. Since then, I try to give when led and when I feel it won’t jeopardize my or my children’s safety.
    Matthew 6:3 “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Have had this haunting gaze for long myself, living on a minuscule $100/pm disability grant. Church don’t want me. Too poor. Family don’t want me. Too lazy. Children walked away. Don’t fit their image. It is lazy me working unpaid seven days a week. To share Jesus Christ. Well, being online costs money, so I pay from my little bit to work for Jesus. Rent is not paid for two months now. I took my shoes off my feet for a really poor guy. A gay meth junkie. When my mom died in April, I was unwelcome and could not attend. I had no way to get there, neither my wife. She wears $1 cloth shoes that are torn. We reach so many people every day. Jews. Muslims. Gays. Or just lost young adults. We bring them Jesus. Nobody brings us nothing. Nobody wants us. Nobody visits. We would make them look bad. Dilute their status. Bless them. My gaze is empty. I call into a cold chamber that echoes frigidly. It is called Christianity.

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